Editor’s note: This article deals with the television show Heroes. If you are not up to date with the most recent episode, and you don’t want to be spoiled by details, you may want to turn back now.
So there I was, watching Heroes on NBC tonight, when I saw a commercial about Rachel. Rachel, as the ad told me, somehow survived the explosion at Pinehearst that marked the end of ‘volume three’ or the series. As curious people often do, I headed over to the Heroes web site at NBC to see what the deal was, hoping for a return to what was formerly known as Heroes 360, which became Heroes Evolutions. I had not had the opportunity to play along with the original experience, and as I’m still a huge Heroes fan, I thought that now would be a good time to jump back into the ARG. While what I found wasn’t exactly what I was hoping for, it’s still a pretty cool experience for fans of the show.
Enter the iStory titled The Private. Described on the web site as an “ongoing, interactive story,” players will be given the chance to play along with the choose-your-own-adventure style narrative, as the choices they make will determine the outcome of the story and its characters. This appears to be a game that players can jump into at any time, as all new players start at the first “book” of the series, and progress can be saved in the player profile.
I had a chance to play through the first story tonight — there have been four published to date — and was impressed by both the narrative and the artwork. Within the story, there was a Morse Code puzzle, and while the choices were few and far between, there’s a great deal of potential here for future chapters of the story. Combine this aspect of the Evolutions experience with a web series called The Recruit, a series of graphic novels and season walkthroughs and it appears to be a robust expansion of the universe laid out within the boundaries of the weekly hour-long action show. Again, it may not be the type of interaction the typical ARG player might expect, but it deserves a second (and third, and fourth…) look from anyone who wants to more about Hiro, Peter and Claire the cheerleader.
There’s something to be said about major broadcasters who go out of their way to bring interactive content to their dedicated viewership, so when we were tipped off about the continuation of “Heroes Evolution”, the official Heroes ARG, we were quite pleased. This is the same game we began talking about almost a year ago, which we previously knew as the Heroes 360 Experience, so those of you familiar with web sites such as primatechpaper.com and YamagatoFellowship.org are going to be happy to know that the campaign will most likely continue to use these resources.
The announcement of the next stage of the game is part of a press release we dug up at The Futon Critic in which the message is clear — NBC is big on transmedia experiences. On top of announcing expansive digital experiences for new series “Lipstick Jungle” and “Knight Rider,” the release contained this:
The next chapter in the highly anticipated “Heroes” online mythology continues with “Heroes Evolution.” Fans will discover intriguing new back-story and plot twists through the “Heroes” online and mobile micro-sites. The popular graphic novel continues in originals all winter long as well.
So, we mentioned an sneak peek, right? Well, it’s waiting for you, just after the jump, so click on to bask in the glory of exclusive, unreleased content!
This year’s Emmy Awards have a category for Outstanding Achievement in Interactive Television, and regular observers of and participants in the world of alternate reality gaming may see quite a few familiar names in the candidate lineup. Check out the ITVT Blog’s exclusive on the awards for lots of interesting information.
- Heroes Interactive (NBC Universal)
- DirecTV Interactive Sports
- The Jericho Experience (CBS)
- The Fallen Alternative Reality Game (Xenophile Media & Double Twenty Productions)
- Big Brother Goes Mobile (CBS)
ARGNet Editor Jonathan Waite was behind the curtain on Fallen‘s Ocular Effect game, which has already picked up a few other awards, including a SXSW Interactive Award and a Banff World TV Festival Awards. Unfiction players also participated in the Jericho Experience and Heroes Interactive. ARGs are represented on the judging panel as well, which includes 42 Entertainment President & CEO Joe DiNunzio.
Regardless of which nominee wins, we’re happy to see chaotic fiction/alternate reality games/television extended experiences — or however you’d like to classify these works — getting mainstream recognition for their excellence, and offer all of them our congratulations. Here’s hoping the competition gets even fiercer in future years.
Sing it with me, ladies:
I need a Hero[es ARG]!
I’m holding out for a Hiro ’til the end of the night.
It’s gotta be sure [it’s an ARG]
And it’s gotta be soon
And it’s gotta be larger than life…
Okay, I never was any good at the parody-lyrics thing. And while I’d love a full-blown Heroes ARG (if for no other reason than to feed my Hiro crush), even a “digital extension” of the Heroes story seems like a fun opportunity to immerse oneself in the world of this hit series.
It’s probably too early to dub Heroes 360 an actual ARG, but audience members who have been watching closely have been aware of some Lost-style clues in the show that suggested there might be hidden rewards for those willing to dig deeper. NBC promises “rich, original content” including on-air clues to investigate, “interaction with unique mobile content,” access to the phone system of one of the companies in the show, and additional content on the NBC site including hidden sites and secret files.
A website for Primatech Paper was shown on-screen in this week’s episode of the show. Call the number on the site and you receive a code which, when entered, redirects you to a job application form (unfortunately, applications at this time are limited to US residents). Despite the press releases from the network (and unlike ABC’s comparable efforts for LOST, KyleXY and Fallen), the site is intriguingly subtle about its connection to the show and as yet makes no reference to Nissan, NBC’s corporate partner in producing Heroes 360.